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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200826 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Jury System in Imperial Japan and the Contemporary Argument for Its Reintroduction
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:215-224
Author(s): Takashi Maruta
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 10
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses the structure of the judicial system in Japan.
Abstract: The Japanese Government has established a council to renovate the whole structure of the judicial system for the 21st century. The goal is to increase the number of licensed lawyers for the expanding demand for legal service in the business sector; strengthen the legal aid program for easier access to the courts to resolve legal disputes; and contemplate the possibility of introducing the jury system or the mixed court system. In 1928 Japan introduced the criminal jury system. The jury system was unusual in several ways. Juror’s eligibility was limited to male citizens over the age of 30 that paid a high sum of national taxes over the previous 2 years. Felony cases were subject to mandatory jury trial, whereas with misdemeanor cases jury trial was discretionary. Because the number of jury trials dwindled considerably over the years, the jury system was deemed unsuitable and alien to the Japanese nationality. The non-jury or bench trial system was more highly respected and favored. Contemporary anti-jury arguments include the bias and emotion of jurors, their inability to comprehend the law, and the cost of managing a jury system. The benefits of a jury system are preventing unreasonable investigation or unfair prosecution, and the educational effectiveness. Because of the conviction rate in Japan, the judge’s task usually consists in giving adequate sentences rather than deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Based on the facts, judges can give benefit to the defendant and lessen the charges to a lower crime category or give lenient sentences. In jury cases, the non-legal facts must be excluded from the jury’s consideration. Judges and prosecutors warn those that advocate the jury system that the defendant might not get lenient sentences any more when the jury returns a guilty verdict. In criminal trial, the dossier is predominant as evidence and proof. The jury system would break up the traditional dossier trial completely.
Main Term(s): Japan; Juries
Index Term(s): Jury selection; Mixed court system; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Right to trial by jury; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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